Expats can choose to buy or rent a property in Gibraltar, but many opt to rent because of the short-term nature of their assignments. Due to limited space, there is a high demand for housing in Gibraltar, prices are high, and the few new developments are mostly highly sought-after luxury units.
Many expats decide to live on the Spanish side of the border, in particular in Sotogrande, an upmarket resort town 15.5 miles (25 km) up the coast from Gibraltar.
Types of accommodation in Gibraltar
The undersupplied market means that it can take a while to find somewhere to live. But given time and determination, expats moving to Gibraltar will be able to find a home that suits their lifestyle and needs.
Properties range from studio flats and townhouses to large standalone houses and villas. Many apartment blocks have shared facilities such as swimming pools and laundry rooms.
Renting accommodation in Gibraltar
The process of renting accommodation in Gibraltar is fairly easy. Expats will have to scour the internet and attend viewings. Once an expat has found the right property, they will need to make an application, which may require providing references and proof of income to the prospective landlord or real-estate agent.
Finding rental accommodation
Expats looking to rent or buy a property in Gibraltar have several options when it comes to finding the perfect home. Online property portals are a good place to start, as are the classifieds sections of local publications, for those who are already in Gibraltar. Social media neighbourhood groups are also an invaluable resource, as landlords typically share their rentals there to avoid incurring the costs of placing a listing on property portals.
Expats can also approach a local real-estate agent to help navigate the sometimes difficult process of finding and securing housing. Real-estate agents often boast strong connections and extensive knowledge of the local property market.
Furnished vs unfurnished
Expats can find both furnished and unfurnished rentals in Gibraltar. Those who are in the British territory for the short term usually opt for furnished rentals for convenience. Furnished rentals typically include everything from furniture and appliances to utensils and decorative pieces, while unfurnished rentals will only include appliances such as a refrigerator and stove, as well as kitchen and bathroom fixtures.
Furnished properties usually have higher rental prices than unfurnished homes. Expats who would prefer to bring a personal touch to their new rental needn't worry, as both Gibraltar and neighbouring Spain have a plethora of affordable furniture stores.
Short lets and temporary housing
Temporary housing is one of the best ways for expats to get to know their new home before signing a long-term lease. Short-term rental websites such as AirBnB and MagicStay host a wide range of short-term rentals at reasonable price points for new arrivals to explore.
Signing a lease
New arrivals will need to sign a lease agreement to secure a rental property in Gibraltar. Most landlords require tenants to sign a 12-month lease, but expats can easily negotiate a six-month agreement with the option to renew the contract. For long-term rentals, expats will need to give their landlords at least six months notice should they wish to terminate the lease.
Expats will also need to pay a deposit (usually equivalent to one or two months of rent) as well as the first month's rent in advance. At the end of the lease, the deposit is returned in full as long as the property is returned in a good condition. Tenants should ensure that they take a comprehensive inventory of the property when they move in and share it with their landlord to ensure they do not incur unfair costs at the termination of the lease.
Expats renting a property in a new development should ensure their landlord has the legal right to rent to them, as most of these developments were bought in conjunction with the government. This means that there are restrictive covenants on sub-letting flats in these developments.
Pets are generally not allowed when renting a home in Gibraltar, but expats can negotiate with their landlord. Should the property owner agree to a tenant keeping a pet on their property, expats must ensure their pet is microchipped and registered at the Gibraltar veterinary clinic.
Utilities, which include water, electricity and internet, are generally for the tenant's account in Gibraltar. Expats are responsible for changing the contracts to their name and cancelling their agreements with the respective companies at the end of their lease. Aquagib, Gibraltar's water supplier, is responsible for sending residents dual water and electricity bills. The company takes electricity readings and collects the funds on behalf of the Gibraltar Electricity Authority.
The Department of the Environment is responsible for the collection of refuse and recyclable materials in Gibraltar. The department provides residents with yellow, green, blue and pink recycling bins for plastic, glass, paper and electronic waste. These items are then sent to recycling plants in Spain. Expats also have the option to deliver bulky household waste such as mattresses and hazardous waste to the Civic Amenities Site.
Termination of the lease
Tenants will need to have the property professionally cleaned at the end of their lease to avoid losing out on their deposit, as this is a stipulation in most lease agreements in Gibraltar. Expats should also ensure they thoroughly go through the initial inventory they made upon moving into a property to ensure they leave the home in the same condition.
Landlords will generally not charge tenants for normal wear and tear, while damage beyond this is likely to lead to deductions from the deposit. That said, tenants should expect to receive their deposit back in full within 15 days of vacating the property, should everything remain in order.
►Doing Business in Gibraltar is a good resource for understanding work culture
Are you an expat living in Gibraltar?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Gibraltar. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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